On Monday night, I headed over to Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh with Brad and Beth to hear “The Author Guy” Christopher Moore speak about his new book, The Serpent of Venice. I’ve not read any of Moore’s books, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I looked him up beforehand on GoodReads – he’s got at least fifteen novels under his belt, and one graphic novel.
We showed up to Quail Ridge about half an hour before Moore was scheduled to start speaking, but the parking lot was already packed. When we got inside, it was immediately clear that we’d be standing in the back to hear Moore speak, if we could find a place to squeeze in at all. The store was packed, and the table that QRB usually stacks with books by the visiting author was already looking thoroughly picked over. We took one look at the crowd, did some mental math about how long the line might be to have Moore sign our book after his talk, and opted to buy one of the few remaining pre-signed copies of The Serpent of Venice.
Moore opened his speech with a few jokes about the “author tour” experience (referencing a challenge from a book store employee to sign more books than Amy Tan in an hour – evidently, her record is 800) and a funny (if random) story about his beloved San Francisco. I wasn’t quite sure where he was going with any of his stories, but he made me laugh, and also convinced me that I should be following him on Twitter (@TheAuthorGuy, if you are interested).
When Moore did get around to speaking about The Serpent of Venice, he gave a bit of background on his inspiration for the story. Evidently, he and his wife were visiting Mantua on a tour for one of his books several years ago, and they decided to do a little exploring in Italy while they were there. Moore said that he loved the entire experience, but that Venice in particular struck him as a great setting for a monster story – buildings buttressed together at the top to prevent them from collapsing into each other, streets so narrow that you have to turn sideways to walk down them, and all that water! So he started thinking about stories that were already set in Venice, and he came up with Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Poe’s story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Moore said that Othello and Merchant both struck him as being stories about outsiders. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a story about “a Venetian nobleman who walls up a fool in a basement.” As Moore, pointed out, he already has a fool – Pocket, the title character of his 2009 novel Fool. So in The Serpent of Venice, readers will see Iago, Antonio, and Montressor plotting against Pocket with a loveable sea-monster thrown in. Christopher Moore describes this book as “like Game of Thrones, only with more Jews.” I have no idea what that means, but I own a copy now, so we’ll see.
During the question and answer session, Moore did reveal a few things that were obviously big news to people who have been fans of his for a while. First of all, his current work-in-progress is a sequel to his 2006 novel A Dirty Job. I’ve never read it, but that announcement was met with a burst of applause, so I’m guessing that’s exciting. Also, one reader asked if Moore ever thought about converting any of his novels to plays. Moore revealed that he’s actually written a stage play of Fool, which is going to have its first table reading in a few months. Again, lots of enthusiasm from the crowd for this announcement.
I have a feeling Brad will get around to reading The Serpent of Venice before I do, but I’m looking forward to it after seeing Moore in person. Also, huge thanks to Quail Ridge Books for making events like this possible!